Good news, everyone! The FAA is about to let you use your doo-dad in the plane more often. Specifically, the Wall Street Journal reports, you’ll be able to use your device while the plane is taxing, taking off, landing and climbing to/descending from 10,000 feet. Currently, the use of electronics is not permitted during those maneuvers [1. Note that phone calls will still be verboten during those times.].
A lot of you think that the FAA has enforced periodic electronics lock-downs to force you to watch the safety information or just because it can. That’s really not true. As I reported a few weeks ago, there are some old planes in operation, and many of those use old equipment that can be affected by radio signals. Most planes run more modern equipment but many don’t. Rather than forcing the passengers and crew to make that determination on every flight, the FAA played it safe and made a blanket rule for all aircraft. A United Airlines pilot explains:
“Some older aircraft do have extremely old school radios. Some do not even have GPS. So the FAA has decided two things:
Since it is too contradictory for passengers and flight attendants to discriminate what aircraft they are on, and what should be the corresponding announcement, the same one is used for all aircraft.
The FAA can not take time to test every new device as it’s released. In fact, such testing falls to near the bottom of its priority/to-do list.”
The service is currently available at three Texas airports only (DFW, Love Field and Austin), but the company expects to be in seven different markets by the end of 2013. According to the app’s description in Apple’s App Store, you can “…exit the plane, and walk directly to your silver Audi A4.”
Just don’t lose your rental agreement, or you’re…well, you know.
Soon you’ll be able to watch your lost luggage travel farther and farther away. The concept Bag2Go from Airbus is the result of a collaboration between T-Mobile and German luggage maker Rimowa. Aside from your skivvies, there’s a GPS tracker, a 2G mobile radio and an RFID chip inside the bag, recording its whereabouts. Additionally, a companion iPhone app lets you monitor the bag’s location. There’s even a scale built into the handle, so you can weight it by simply picking it up.
For now, there are no plans to put the technology into consumer luggage, but Airbus may license the Bag2Go to airlines so that travelers can rent them on a short-term basis. Sounds cool, but wouldn’t you rather own one of these bags instead of renting it from the airline?